Over the last three years I have hiked on some trails in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, In Texas.
Maybe it would help others wanting to do these trails if I showed a map or two.
ITEM 8 was added in 2014: Guadalupe Peak.
As you can see from this next photo, the internal structure of the Permian reef remnant that is the Guadalupe Range is very complex. This aerial photo (obtained from Wiki-Media Commons) shows that what you see when you drive by on the highway, which is a rather uniform ridgeline with a few canyon breaks, is not what you get once inside the range.
If you are interested in the geology and geologic history that led to this complexity, check out the explanations here (click here to go there).
So it is very helpful that the National Park Service provides a map of the National Park, showing the trails, and very lightly indicating some major topographical features (the online PDF version of this map can be blown up to make the detail more readable):
To be useful in the present context of illustrating my walks we need to break this map down to focus on the the places I have visited on my walks. To do that I took photos of the NPS map:
1. The first walk I took in this National Park was to go a ways up the Bush Mountain Trail, starting from Dog Canyon. I believe I got to about the spot where the word "Bush" ends on the red stippled portion of the trail. (The red stippled portion means it is OK for horses.) I had gotten onto the first ridge, and could see the second ridge in the distance that had trees and snow.
So I didn't get all that far. It was one of those walks where I learned the hard way that if you start in the afternoon, and you don't turn around early enough, then you return in darkness. It is not easy to see the trail without light.
It being my first time in this park, I didn't even realize I was on the Bush Mountain Trail until I came back a second time, started to walk again, and saw the Bush Mountain Trail sign and remembered turning there. That next time I did not turn, but took the Tejas Trail instead (see item 2).
New Addition: Also please see a longer hike along the Bush Mountain and Marcus trails in 2013.
2. Two times I took the Tejas Trail from the Dog Canyon trailhead. The first time I went up the Tejas Trail . I turned around at Lost Peak (see map below--or above). The second time, I took the Tejas Trail to the McKittrick Canyon Trail.
How far did I get on the McKittrick Canyon Trail? Look at the word "Canyon" on the red stippled portion of the trail, Right there, there is a downturn onto McKittrick Ridge, where the word Trail is.
I turned around before the word Trail begins there. Apparently I did not learn my lesson about when to turn around. Came back in the dark once more:
3. Eventually I do learn, and this time came with a flashlight. This time I was determined to close the gap on the McKittrick Trail indicated on the next map. Did I succeed? Not quite. I narrowed the gap that used to stretch from A to B, to B to C. Look at these photo pages and you will see I came quite close. Will I do it again? Sure, but not this year.
May 2013 correction: it took two more hikes to get this error straightened out, at point C I was NOT seeing point B. There were still a few miles and hundreds of feet of elevation to go!
4. The grandest canyon scenery in this park may be in McKittrick Canyon (see above map once more, now we are talking about the black dashed McKittrick Canyon trail to the right). I took a short foray into this wonderful place in Summer, and then did a more extensive set of walks into the canyon to catch its rightly famed fall color display. How far along this trail did I get in my quest for color? See where the 'Hunter Line Shack' is on the above map? I walked to the left on the map until that sharp bend where a long switchback goes up to the top of McKittrick Ridge ('B' on the above map).
I did not have a choice to go just a little bit farther and risk coming back in the dark. This side of the park has a gate that closes and locks you in. It is costly to get out.
5. Two little springs were well worth visiting, Smith Spring and Manzanita Spring near Frijole Ranch:
6. Devil's Hall, or Devils Hall (it is big enough for the whole family), is a geologic feature that is worth seeing, but the best part of visiting the place, to me, is having to pass through exuberant foliage in some parts of Pine Springs Canyon along the way:
7. The Bowl. I twice entered The Bowl, an extensive pine forest at the top of the range. My first entry into The Bowl was from the Pine Springs campground up the Tejas trail. I then turned right on the Bowl Trail, saw Hunter Peak, and completed the Bowl Trail loop. My second entry into The Bowl again started from the Pine Springs campground, but this time I went up Bear Canyon, then took the Bowl Trail directly back to the Tejas Trail for the return:
8. Guadalupe Peak was visited 5 July of 2014.
Go back to the Texas home page for a list of items that goes beyond the Guadalupe Mountains.
Go back to the ThoughtsandPlaces. Org home page.